Adults with long-term health conditions need vaccines to stay healthy

Each year, thousands of adults in the United States suffer from serious illnesses that could have been prevented by vaccines. These diseases can be serious and require one to go to the hospital or be out of work for a long time.

Many adults simply do not know they are at high risk for diseases like influenza (flu) and pneumococcal, which vaccines can prevent. Many long-term health conditions like diabetes or asthma place adults at higher risk for problems if they get sick. Some diseases are more common or more dangerous as adults get older, like shingles.

Some adults may not have gotten certain vaccines because they were not available when they were children putting them at risk for the disease. It is important to talk a doctor or pharmacist about vaccines needed to stay healthy.

Individuals are advised to ask about vaccines at their next visit.

Flu

According to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), everyone six months of age and older should get vaccinated every year. It is especially important for young children, pregnant women, older people and those with long-term health conditions.

Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Td or Tdap)

MDH says all adults need a Tdap vaccine one time, and then a Td vaccine every 10 years. Pregnant women need a Tdap vaccine during every pregnancy to protect them and their newborns.

Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)

Many adults need a second dose of this vaccine to be fully protected against the measles. This vaccine also protects against mumps and rubella disease.

Varicella, also called chickenpox

Individuals may need this vaccine if you never had chickenpox disease.

Human papillomavirus (HPV)

If one is 26 or younger, MDH advises people to make sure they have been vaccinated to prevent certain kinds of cancer.

Zoster, also called shingles

Adults 50 and older need this vaccine to be protected against this disease. Shingles disease can cause a very painful rash that may last for several months. If one already has a shingles vaccine, talk to s health care provider because there’s a new vaccine for shingles that individuals are suggested to get as well.

MDH says even if a person usually feels healthy, long-term health conditions may worsen when the body is fighting another disease like the flu or pneumonia. If seeing a doctor for any long-term health condition, ask if any of the following vaccines are needed.

Pneumococcal

There are two types of pneumococcal vaccine, and some may need both. The vaccines help prevent infections in the lungs, blood, and lining of the brain or spinal cord.

Meningococcal

This vaccine protects against a rare but dangerous infection.

Hepatitis A and B

These vaccines protect from viruses that cause liver disease.

If a person travels outside of the United States, he or she may need additional vaccines. Some may also need certain vaccines because of their job, for example if one is a health care worker. Health care providers can help determine what vaccines are needed.

MDH says don’t let cost stop anyone from getting vaccinated. Adult vaccines should be covered by health insurance. Call the number on the back of the insurance card to ask about vaccine cost. Uninsured adults and adults whose insurance does not cover vaccines may receive them at low cost at a clinic enrolled in the Uninsured and Underinsured Adult Vaccine program. Go to Vaccination Clinics Serving Uninsured and Underinsured Adults at www.health.state.mn.us/uuavsearch.

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